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The Pac-12 to Consider Scheduling Change

In a move that could have implications for the Mountain West Conference, the PAC12 will meet this week on a proposal to reduce the number of conference games from a nine games to eight.

PAC12 commissionaer Larry Scott
PAC12 commissionaer Larry Scott
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It would make sense for the Pac-12 to go to an eight game conference schedule. With their present nine game conference schedule it leaves room for only three additional out of conference games (OCG's). That format can be problematic for many leagues, including the Pac-12. It offers a much smaller window for teams like Utah and Colorado to play their instate rivals and still have room on the schedule for teams from other conferences.

Unlike the Pac-12, the Big Ten will have 14 teams with seven in each division. Maybe that is why the Big Ten feels the necessity to have nine conference games. Likewise, the SEC, also with 14 teams, is in a similar situation and are also considering going from their present structure of eight league games to nine. Yet, that nine-game model contrasts sharply with the ACC’s decision to stay at eight conference games even though that league also has 14 teams. However, there is that scheduling agreement with Notre Dame that influenced that conference’s decision.

Still, a 12-team conference like the PAC12 doesn't have the scheduling needs of the other conferences in the so-called Big 5. Perhaps the PAC has looked at other models with a 12-team conference, such as the MWC, and they can see examples that allow for cohesion and flexibility in an eight game format. The Mountain West model, for instance, includes the four OCG's and still allows complete round robin play among all members every two years. In the Big10 model, it will take four years to play all conference members and severely limit non-conference action.

Along with scheduling ideas, the Pac-12 will certainly be discussing a proposal reported here by Jeremy Mauss. That was the recent proposal to the Pac-12 by Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson and called for the Pac-12 to enter into a scheduling alliance with the MWC that would provide western and regionally based FBS teams to both conferences.

With the Big Ten scheduling agreement all but dead, the Pac-12 could find the Mountain West Conference to be an attractive alternative should they move to an eight game in conference structure.